[plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

From: jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr (jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr)
Date: Wed Aug 29 05:37:20 EDT 2007

Shriram Krishnamurthi writes: 

> I hate to spoil a good, old-fashioned flame-fest on the terrible state
> of computing practice, but I have a hard time agreeing with much of
> what I read here.

> ...I just think back to my own life a mere ten years ago,
> compare to where it is now, and I am periodically *amazed* at what
> software can do for me, and how more it promises to do. 

I share - I think - Shriram's optimistic view on the progress.
I have the impression that pointing out the inneficiency, bugs, aborted
projects, etc., is a mild exaggeration, it doesn't really reflect the state
of comp. sci. within the society. 

And, anyway, you in US are somewhat demoralized by the fact that you have
a really huge number of qualified programmers, who work quite efficiently,
if we look at all this globally, from the European perspective. You may
not be satisfied, but all the accusations of managers, teachers, etc. make
me smile (a bit acrimoniously...) 

Here, in France, the problem is that the bulk of software - such as the
ticket reservation systems, some packages for the administration of
public health, or the administration of universities (such as a true
disgrace called Apogée), etc., all this seems to have been designed and
coded by people NOT QUALIFIED ENOUGH. 

Whatever we do with our students, any knowledge and (some) experience, and
all the methodology  taught to them - all this won't help, since the Big
Bosses, people who hold the key positions within the society: directors,
the ministerial staff, etc., they are convinced that with the progress of
the comp. sci., the programming became easy, and can be done by anyone.
And a long comp. sci. learning is too expensive... 

So, the design of the software architecture and a good deal of coding is
under the responsibility of people with two years of higher education, or
amateurs. Moreover, despite a long struggle, there is no university diploma
on the pedagogy of 'Informatics' (the Capes or Aggregation diplomas)
habilitating the holders to teach in secondary schools.
Thus, in high schools, computing is taught by mathematicians, or physicists,
and the result is that we must start at the university at a quite low level.
And the vicious circle continues. 

So, sorry for some impoliteness, but a person who claimed that the "guilt"
is individual, that teachers, programmers, managers, etc. are bad workers,
and such an abstract monster as "the system" doesn't really exist in this
context, said a sheer nonsense. We are not in XVIII century anymore. 

Jerzy Karczmarczuk 

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